? About the project - Dear Data (archive)

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The beginning:
We are two women leading lives that are in parallel with each other, but living them in different places.

We’re both the same age, we’re both only children, and we’ve both left our home countries to travel across the ocean and live in a metropolis of our chosen country.

We also both work with data, using a hand-crafted and illustrative approach to the data visualizations we create.

And most important of all: we both love drawing! With all these similarities, but having met only twice in person, we wanted to get to know each other better; and since data and data visualization is the language that we speak every day for work, we’ve decided to use this process as our mode of communication.

The project:
Each week we collect and measure a particular type of data about our lives, use this data to make a drawing on a postcard-sized sheet of paper, and then drop the postcard in an English “postbox” (Stefanie) or an American “mailbox” (Giorgia)!

Eventually, the postcard arrives at the other person’s address with all the scuff marks of its journey over the ocean: a type of “slow data” transmission.

By creating and sending the data visualizations using analogue instead of digital means, we are really just doing what artists have done for ages, which is sketch and try to capture the essence of the life happening around them. However, as we are sketching life in the modern digital age, life also includes everything that is counted, computed, and measured.

We are trying to capture the life unfolding around us, but instead we are capturing this life through sketching the hidden patterns found within our data.

So far we’re having a lot of fun while we learn about our own and each other’s lives – and we’re also trying to get better at drawing in the process!

We’ve also noticed that the data collection and visualization process has become a sort of performance and ritual in our lives, affecting our days and weeks, and inherently changing our behaviour.

But really, we also started this project to show how “data” is not scary, is not necessarily “big”, and that you need to know almost nothing about data to start collecting and representing it (just a pencil, a notebook and a postcard!)

The process:
Every week we choose a topic we want to explore about our days and lives, and on Monday start our separate-but-parallel data collection.

The data-collecting ends the evening of the following Sunday, and through the course of the following week we analyse our data and draw our postcard, all the while collecting the next dataset.

On Monday we scan and drop our data postcard into the mailbox/postbox and start to plan the next week’s drawing!

The postcards:
The data drawing is shown on the front of the postcard, while the back always includes a “how to read it” key to enable the other to understand the data collection and insight behind the drawing.

Also, we’re keeping records of the entire process including our notes, our preliminary sketches and photos to document how our data collections and drawing evolves through time, found in the 'by weeks' section of the site.


Want to know more about it?
Download the Dear Data press kit

Who Talks about Dear Data?
Flowing Data

Heart Swell

FrizziFrizzi (ITA)